Important week for fate of NBAF

A panel of National Academy of Sciences members will hear expert testimony throughout the week on the subject of Kansas' under construction National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

A series of three teleconferences started on Wednesday in which the experts discussed the viability of the animal health lab. On Wednesday, the head of the Department of Homeland Security's National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center spoke on the subject of points of vulnerability and possible bioterror agents, KCUR reports.

On Thursday, the director of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases will speak. While the institute has a similar mission to the NBAF, the lab is not able to accommodate research on large animals, which is a necessity for examining Foot and Mouth Disease. Friday will see the director of the Rocky Mountain Laboratories testify about the facility's research on diseases spread by insects.

The projected costs for the NBAF have risen to $1.14 billion and have raised questions as to whether or not the lab should be built in the first place. Federal funding for the lab was almost completely cut in the 2013 budget, according to KCUR.

The NAS committee was formed at the DHS's request to examine other potential options such as having NBAF scientists collaborate with researchers at existing facilities and scaling back the design of the facility. An additional NAS committee is reviewing the security and safety plans of the Kansas lab with a report due on June 30.